Mindscape was an American-French video game developer and publisher. The company was founded by Roger Buoy in 1983 in the United States and became based in France through several mergers in acquisitions. Following poor performance of its products, Mindscape exited the video game industry in August 2011. Notable titles released by Mindscape include Déjà Vu, Balance of Power, Sub Mission: A Matter of Life and Death, and Lego Island.
|Industry||Video game industry|
|Founded||October 1983Northbrook, Illinois, U.S.in|
|Defunct||August 10, 2011|
Mindscape was founded in October 1983 as a wholly owned subsidiary of holding company SFN Companies. Mindscape's founder, Australian entrepreneur Roger Buoy, had previously been a computer analyst for Rolls-Royce Limited and later worked for the software division of Scholastic Inc., before being hired by SFN in October 1983 to set up Mindscape. For Mindscape, Buoy acted as president and chief executive officer (CEO). Mindscape released its first product in April 1984. Early games published by the company include Déjà Vu, Balance of Power, and Sub Mission: A Matter of Life and Death. In its early years, Mindscape lost about US$6 million annually.
In July 1986, Mindscape acquired the assets of Scarborough Systems, a software company from Tarrytown, New York. Scarborough Systems continued its operations through Lifeboat Assoc., a subsidiary that was not acquired by Mindscape. In October, SFN announced that it would be selling or closing large parts of its business, including plans to liquidate Mindscape. On December 31, Mindscape also acquired the assets of Roslyn, New York-based company Learning Well. Because Mindscape was not liquidated by the end of 1986, it was assigned to SFN Partners L.P., a limited partnership company. A new corporation set up by Buoy and SFN's former president and chairman, John Purcell, subsequently acquired Mindscape from SFN Partners on January 16, 1987, for $3 million. Buoy retained his positions in the company, while Purcell became its chairman. At this point, Mindscape had 74 employees.
With sales of $12 million, Mindscape had become profitable for the first time in the fouth quarter of 1986, and publishing black numbers by 1987. In March 1987, Mindscape acquired the software division of Holt, Rinehart and Winston formerly known as CBS Interactive Learning, with all operations moved to Mindscape's Northbrook, Illinois, headquarters. By June 1988, the filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to prepare an initial public offering and become a public company. The move aimed at raising $9.6 million through sale of stock to reduce its bank loan debts of $9.8 million. The first stock was issued in July. Bob Ingersoll and Dennis O'Malley were appointed vice-president (VP) of marketing and VP of sales, respectively, in May 14, 1987. In November, Mindscape signed a lease of 21,000 square feet (2,000 m2) of office space in Wheeling, Illinois, for $236,000. Robert A. Drell, formerly of Dresher Inc., became VP of finance and chief financial officer in October 1988.
In December 1989, video game company The Software Toolworks reached an agreement to acquire Mindscape, exchanging every Mindscape share for 0.4375 of a share in newly issued Toolworks common stock. The deal was completed on March 13, 1990, and valued at $21.2 million. Mindscape had been one of the approximately 40 companies licensed to develop for Nintendo video game platforms, which was a major reason for the acquisition. The two companies merged, and Buoy joined Les Crane on Toolworks' company board. Following the acquisiton, Mindscape became Toolwork's division working exclusively on games for Nintendo platforms, which sharply increased Toolwork's earnings. Subsequently, in April 1994, Pearson plc acquired Toolworks for $462 million, with the deal closing on May 12, 1994.
Pearson was criticized for overpaying in the acquisition, and the acquired company lost $69 million in its early years under Pearson. By November that year, Toolworks had assumed the Mindscape identity. The same year, Mindscape acquired video game developer Strategic Simulations. In September 1995, it acquired Micrologic Software from Emeryville, California, to undisclosed terms. After In January 1996, John F. Moore became CEO after leaving the same position at Western Publishing. In 1997, Mindscape acquired software company Multimedia Design. In November, it laid off 12 developed staff as a cost reduction measure.
In its final year under Pearson, 1997, Mindscape become profitable again, generating $2.7 million. After this, Pearson proceeded to sell Mindscape to The Learning Company (TLC) in March 1998 for $150 million in cash and stock. A waiting period was temporarily imposed by the Federal Trade Commission and subsequently terminated the same month. TLC expected that its stocks would rise $0.05 per share as a result of the acquisition, while Pearson lost around $347 million. Later that year, when TLC integrated its Broderbund division, Mindscape took over Broderbund's productivity, reference and entertainment brands. TLC was acquired by Gores Technology Group in 2000 and its game brands were reformed under a new entitiy, Game Studios, in January 2001. The same year, former TLC-Edusoft executive Jean-Pierre Nordman bought out Mindscape and became its manager. Through this move, Mindscape became based in Boulogne-Billancourt, a suburb of Paris, France.
By December 2009, Thierry Bensoussan had become the managing director for Mindscape. The company opened a intnernal development studio, Punchers Impact, in Paris to develop multi-platform digital download games. The studio's managers, Guillaume Descamps and Jérôme Amouyal, left the studio less than a year later, in September 2010, to found a new studio, Birdies Road. Punchers Impact developed two games—Crasher, a racing game, and U-Sing, a music game. U-Sing performed well at retail, but the cost of music licenses for the game had a severe impact on its revenue, while Crasher underperformed. As a result, Mindscape announced on August 10, 2011 that it had closed Punchers Impact and laid off its 40 employees, while itself would effectively exit the video game industry. Some regional subsidiaries, such as Mindscape Asia-Pacific in Sydney, Australia, continued operating in the video game business as entities independent from Mindscape.
- Balance of Power (1985)
- Deja Vu (1985)
- Uninvited (1986)
- American Challenge: A Sailing Simulation (1986)
- Chessmaster (1986)
- Shadowgate (1987)
- Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing (1987)
- Road Runner (Commodore 64, MS-DOS) (United States, Canada) (1987)
- Visions of Aftermath: The Boomtown (PC) (1988)
- Willow (Amiga, Atari ST, Commodore 64, MS-DOS) (1988)
- The Colony (1988)
- Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (NES) (1988)
- Paperboy (NES, Game Boy) (1988, 1990)
- Prince of Persia (1989)
- Captive (1990)
- SimEarth (1990)
- Mad Max (NES) (1990)
- SimAnt (1991)
- Moonstone: A Hard Days Knight (1991)
- Knightmare (1991)
- Captain Planet and the Planeteers (1991)
- Gods (1991)
- D/Generation (1991)
- Contraption Zack (1992)
- SimLife (1992)
- Outlander (1992)
- The Terminator (NES) (1992)
- Legend (aka The Four Crystals of Trazere) (1992)
- Worlds of Legend: Son of the Empire (1993)
- Wing Commander (SNES) (1993)
- Super Battleship (1993)
- Star Wars Chess (1993)
- Metal Marines (1993)
- Liberation: Captive 2 (Amiga, Amiga CD32) (1994)
- Cyberspeed (PC [unreleased], PlayStation) (1995)
- Angel Devoid: Face of the Enemy (1996)
- Azrael's Tear (1996)
- Starwinder (1996)
- Counter Action (1997)
- Lego Island (PC) (1997)
- Aaron Vs. Ruth (1997)
- Prince of Persia 3D (1999)
- Rat Attack! (1999)
- Billy Hatcher and the Giant Egg (PC) (2006)
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